The Tallest Man on Earth is 27 years old and lives in Sweden. His name is Kristian Matsson, and he has finger-pickin’ guitar skills like nobody’s business. Although this young man hasn’t technically set any records, listening to his music, it feels as though a remarkable level of creative ingenuity is being achieved. With a moniker that’s sure to grab attention, this European singer-songwriter does his ear-catching name justice, and then some.
Pulling double-duty as lead singer of the band Montezumas, Matsson began experimenting with solo recordings in the early 2000’s. His self-titled debut EP was released on Sweden’s Gravitation Records in 2006, and two years later he recorded his first full-length album, Shallow Grave. It’s a sparsely hypnotic achievement that Matsson recorded at home, but you would never know it upon listening. The sound flows too beautifully off the record, and people took notice.
It hooked a huge international fan base, thanks in large part to a tour alongside indie-folkster Bon Iver. Shallow Graves made Pitchfork’s 50 best Albums of 2008 list. And Matsson recently made a not-to-be missed appearance on NPR’s All Music Considered; a captivating, bare-bones three-song set that is sure to endear him to a whole slew of new listeners.
Offering up acoustic folk and blues with slightly poppy edges, Matsson manages to pull off one of the most difficult but sought after dualities of music: seeming simplicity coupled with an intense range of skill, and depth of emotion. Sure, this songwriter has old-fashioned appeal, just a man and his guitar (or banjo) singing his heart out; a lone wolf persona finding his way in the world with an instrument and his voice. But this is no kitsch. Matsson embodies classical elements of folk while delivering a vision that is all his own.
The Tallest Man on Earth’s second album, The Wild Hunt, was recently released on Dead Oceans Records. Just as good as his first, it showcases Matsson’s ability to create refreshing folk tunes that take unforeseen lyrical twists, making for perfectly harmonious musical landscapes. “King of Spain” is a new track that dances a light, but playful melody, buoyed from underneath via Matsson’s sweetly gruff vocal stylings. A poet is born.
The talented young Swede is currently touring in promotion of his latest achievement with the psychedelic folk/pop band Nurses. Unfortunately, however, his stopover in New York City has already passed. Matsson played to a sold-out arena at High Line Ballroom in April. But The Tallest Man on Earth is still touring across the United States, making many stops to delight and enthrall his ever-growing collection of devotees. If you have any interest whatsoever in folk, or are just an all-around lover of straight-up good music, this is the pony to keep your eye on.
The Tallest Man on Earth
May 11 – The Mission – Portland, OR
May 12 – St. James Theater – Vancouver, BC
May 14 – Brixx- Edmonton, AB
May 15 – Local 522- Calgary, AB
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– Amanda Decker